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The Lancet, February, 1871 - Facial Paralysis from Fright



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As described in Illustrations Of The Influence Of The Mind Upon The Body In Health And Disease, Designed To Elucidate The Action Of The Imagination - Daniel Hack Tuke, M.D., M.R.C.P.,

SECTION III.— Loss of Muscular Power : Paralysis.

In the "Lancet," February, 1871, is reported a case of "Facial Paralysis from Fright," under the care of Dr. Wiltshire, in the West London Hospital —

" The patient was an intelligent little girl, aged 5 years. Four days previously she had been much frightened during her mother's absence from home. On the following morning, the mother noticed that the child's mouth was drawn to the right side, and thinking that she was playing with her mouth, scolded her; but it soon became evident that the distortion was not voluntary. On admission it was found that, when the face was at rest, the paralysis was not betrayed, but during crying or laughing, the mouth was considerably drawn over to the right side. The left eye watered considerably; it could not be closed. There was no ptosis, nor were there any decayed teeth, enlarged glands, or evidence of the existence of worms. There was no otorrhoea or other symptom of disease of the temporal bone, nor squinting, nor paralysis of any other part of the body. The child was rather restless during sleep. A grain of bromide of potassium was ordered to be given three times a day ; and thirteen days after admission the following note was taken :
' Has slept much better since taking the medicine. There is decidedly less paralysis. The left eye discharges a good deal, but is not inflamed.' On the thirty- second day it was noted that there was scarcely any evidence of paralysis remaining; 'in fact, the only sign is a slightly quicker and more complete blinking of the right eye than the left when one pretends to give the child a blow in the face.' On the forty-sixth day the child ceased to attend.

"Three months after, the child was brought again to the hospital suffering from scarlatinal dropsy [scarlet fever]. It was ascertained that she had had no return of the paralysis, and presented no trace of it. No form of electricity was employed; the treatment consisted solely in the administration of bromide of potassium in three-grain doses — a therapeutic agent to which Dr. Wiltshire thinks the recovery can hardly be attributed."

The source of the experience

Hack Tuke, Daniel

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